Sunday, March 7, 2021

GLΔG: Discipline

The GLΔG: it's just like GLOG, but this time with more triangles.



Everyone learns the disciplines differently: some learn from a single master, some learn in a class with teachers, some learn through intuition and experiment, some learn from a strange old monster, some learn by reaching enlightenment.

Anyone can learn the disciplines: it takes no special training, no tools or equipment, and no special gifts or boons.

All it takes to learn the disciplines is time, energy, and patience.

Each discipline has requirements: complete the requirements, and you can perform the discipline. Requirements are in italics.

These disciplines are numbered: you must has at least one discipline from the previous rank to learn a discipline of the next. Other than that, no requirements: any class, any level, any person.

(0) Meditation
For one month, spend ten continuous minutes per day meditating, at the same time each day. If you miss a day or don't complete the full ten minutes, begin again.
You can feel every inch of your body in sharper focus and greater detail. With a moment, you can regulate your breathing. If you spend a minute breathing, you can soothe your mind to an even calm.

You no longer have to meditate at the same time every day, but: if you go a day without spending ten continuous minutes meditating, you lose all of your disciplines until you do the full month, at the same time every day, again.

(1) Limber
For a month, spend an hour a day practicing calisthenics in complete silence. If you miss a day or if you speak, begin again.
You know how to do all of the basic athletic and acrobatic moves required of you: climbs, rolls, vaults, leaps, hurdles, handstands, handsprings, somersaults, flips, and so on. You can't do them perfectly every time, not yet, but you know the foundations. 

(2) Strikes
Find somewhere stony and barren, where no plants grow. Spend a full day meditating there, from sunrise to sunset.
Provided you have meditated today, you can strike with your hands, feet, elbows, and knees with the power and might of clubs and stones—and you can do it without breaking your bones. 

While clubs and stones are not as strong as axes and arrows, they are certainly stronger than ordinary fists.

(2) Weave
Spend a month wearing nothing but rags: no shoes, no hat, no gloves, nothing but decency's necessities. 
If you keep your hands in front of you and regulate your breathing, you can avoid the strikes and blows from a single foe.  If you move your hands (like to hit them), or if your breathing gets out of whack (like to sprint away), or if you can't see them, this doesn't work. But: keep your hands up, keep breathing, and keep your eyes on them, and they can never hit you.

This doesn't work against multiple foes. It also doesn't work against non-physical-attack-ish attacks, like dragon's breath or magic lightning.

(2) Concentration
Spend a cumulative month meditating.
While you meditate, your mind cannot be unduly influenced: charms, possessions, and their similar ilk cannot affect you. 

So long as you meditate at least an hour per day, the long-term damaging effects of loneliness, isolation, and routine cannot effect you. 

(3) Rest
Spend a week sleeping on a stone bed with a stone pillow. Then, carry a pebble in each of your pockets. If you lose the pebbles, you need to find new ones before you can perform this discipline.
You can meditate and sleep anywhere—atop sharp sticks, on jagged rocks, in bitter snow, half-submerged in stagnant water, and the like—like it was a soft feather pillow.

You decide exactly when you want to fall asleep, how long you want to sleep for, whether you can be roused from your sleep, and whether or not you wish to dream.

(3) Fall
Find a mountaintop where you can see nothing higher. Meditate there for a full day, from sunrise to sunset.
If you fall and shed some external piece of clothing as you land—like a cloak, hat, scarf, sash, and so on—you suffer no harm from the fall, regardless of height.

(3) Leap
For a month, never stop touching the ground: some part of your skin must touch solid earth.
With a length of something loose and light in your hands—a scarf, a whip, a rope, and so on—you can leap as far and as high as a mountain lion. Critically, though, you only travel as fast as a normal human jump; this might leave you in the air for several seconds. 

(4) Haste
Using only your bare hands, chase after and catch a squirrel, a hawk, and a carp.
With empty hands and bare feet, you can run as fast as a horse canters. For every ten minutes you've spent meditating today, you can run for an hour without growing over-tired. 

(4) Throws
Carry a pack full of rocks on your back for a week.
If you hit someone with a kick or punch and have two limbs squarely planted on the ground, you can launch them backwards. If they're small, they get launched far; if they're large, it's not quite as much distance.

(4) Tranquility
Go a month without touching metal. Wood, stone, and bone are fine, but touch any metal, and you must begin again.
While meditating and unarmed, you appear harmless; foes will be put off-guard, and enemies hunting for you will likely not mark you down as anyone of import. It takes someone of great will and passion to attack a person harmlessly meditating.

(5) Balance
Spend an entire day with only your hands touching the ground.
As long as one hand or foot is touching a solid surface, you never lose your balance. You might sway and bob and tilt, but you'll never fall over. This includes handstands, meditative poses, odd martial maneuvers, and that kind of thing. 

That said, if something hits you hard enough to literally lift you off the ground, this probably won't work.

(5) Coordination
Shave all the hair off your body, and spend a full day meditating beneath the open sky. 
While your breath is held, you always know exactly how close to you everything is, and if it's moving, how close it will be. This means, for example, you know precisely where a falling raindrop will land on you, or where an enemy's arrow-point will pierce your body.

With difficulty, you can move to avoid or interact with such moving objects: brush arrows to redirect their course, catch enemy blades mid-swing, or avoid oncoming falling raindrops.

(5) Empath
Go a month without speaking.
If you observe a living thing for fifty of their heartbeats, you can feel their basic emotions: anger, fear, joy, hunger, and so on. If you touch them, skin to skin, this only takes three heartbeats.

This lasts as long as you can hear them. You can feel the emotions of multiple living things at once.

(6) Iron Hand
Forge a weapon with your own two hands. Then, hang it on a wall within easy reach, and never use it.
When you wield a weapon, you can feel every inch of it as if it was the skin on your hand; just as you do not have to think to ball your fist or take a step, you do not have to think to cut or thrust with the weapon. 

As long as you aren't holding up something else with the weapon, it is as if the weapon is an empty hand. This works for Weave, Haste, Balance, and so on. 

If the weapon intentionally leaves your hand, you can still feel it until you lose control: for example, if you toss a club in the air and then catch it, you feel it for the duration; if you toss a club in the air and let it fall, you feel it until you no longer could have caught it. 

(6) Whirlwind
Spend a month with your hands bound together with tight gloves, so your wrists are stuck together and you can't move your fingers at all. 
While your breath is held: when others strike, you strike twice; if a foe misses you, you can strike them instantaneously; you can draw and stow your weapons in a flicker of an eye.

(6) Prediction
Spend a week with your eyes blindfolded, unable to see.
When you make eye contact with a foe, you know exactly what they're going to do, moments before they do it: where they'll strike, where they'll move, how they'll next maneuver. If you blink or break eye contact, this stops functioning.

(7) Awareness
Go one month without engaging in any vices.
Your senses no longer require their organs to function: you can see with your eyes closed, hear with ears muffled, smell with your nose filled, taste with your tongue gagged, and feel with your skin numbed.

(7) Truth
Omit nothing relevant. Spread no rumors. Tell no lies. Break any of these, and you lose this discipline.
If you can detect a person in any way, you know when they're lying, when they're hiding something, and when they're going to betray you.

If they meditate with you for an hour, you can compel them to tell you the truth.

(7) Paralyze
Spend a full day meditating while completely unable to move. Bound in an iron coffin, perhaps, or buried in sand.
When you strike a foe, you can choose to inflict no harm. If you strike them in this way once for every sense they have (for most creatures, this is five), you can paralyze them, leaving their body rigid and their muscles locked. 

They remain paralyzed for fifty heartbeats (your heart, not theirs). If you begin meditating during that minute, they stay paralyzed for as long as you meditate.

(8) Synchrony
Meditate for one hour every day for a year. 
Every hour you spend meditating feeds you like a full meal, and refreshes you like sleeping for two hours. If you spend six hours of a day meditating, you do not age that day.

(8) Improvise
Spend a month wielding a weapon: it never leaves your side, you use in your meditations, you fight with nothing else. If it breaks, if it leaves your person, or if you fail to meditate with it, you must begin again.
You master a weapon. Once mastered, you can wield any item at all similar in place of it. For example, once you have a mastered the sword, you can wield a stick with the same power and efficacy as a blade of the finest steel.

You can master multiple weapons, one month at a time.

(8) Quiver
Spend one week without your feet, shins, or knees ever touching the ground, or any other solid surface you can walk on. This includes time spent sleeping.
With your eyes closed and your breath held, you can Weave against as many opponents as you have limbs. 

With Iron Hand, you can increase this number beyond your natural four (if you can juggle weapons, this number can get very high indeed).

(9) Emptiness
You must stand atop a cricket, an ant, a beetle, a fly, and a preying mantis, each in turn, without crushing any of them. If any of them are harmed, you must spend a cumulative month worth's of time meditating before you must begin again.
At your choosing, you can compel your body to weigh as little as an insect, but maintain the strength and size of your regular form. This means you can leap huge distances, run up walls, walk across the surface of water, glide on a strong wind, balance atop thin reeds, and otherwise remain near-weightless. 

Whenever you choose, you can return to your normal weight.

(9) Rend
Go a full year without killing any living thing: not animals, not plants, not people.
When you strike a foe, you can choose to inflict no harm. If you strike them in this way once for every year they have been alive, and are not struck once in turn, you mark them.

Within a year and a day of a foe being marked, you can, with a twitch of your finger, cause their spirit to leave their body. This almost always kills the body.

(9) Wisdom
Wear no finery, indulge no pleasures, possess no wealth. If you return to materiality, you lose this discipline.
For every cumulative month you spend meditating, you learn the true answer to any one question you might have.

(10) Mastery
Learn every other discipline, and spend a cumulative decade meditating.
You can fly.


Some references and sources of inspiration:
  • Most of Avatar and Korra, but Henry Rollins especially
  • Absolver
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, especially this scene
Not entirely sure how I feel about this one, to be honest. 

As always, feel free to hack, remix, and adjust this however you see fit.


  1. Hmm... I feel like this one would involve a large spreadsheet of all the different times spent meditating, and under what conditions. If I spend a month in a monastery blindfolded, with my hands bound, sleeping hanging upside down, and spending every free moment meditating, how many powers do I get??

    I feel like a lot of these would make more sense if the penalty was in addition to "while still adventuring". Doing a dungeon with one eye covered and one hand bound is a lot more dangerous than spending a week at home blindfolded.

    1. Probably would involve a spreadsheet, yeah.

      In my mind though, it’s called Discipline for a reason. Pyromancies are easy, they’re one-and-done—you do your one absurd trick, and you’ll have a power forever.

      With Disciplines, though, you need to sink the time and effort into it. If you aren’t willing to practice every day, how’re you supposed to master anything?

      But I agree with your assessment; this is perhaps less practical than it is aspirational.

    2. For Discipline to work you need a significant downtime portion to the game. Would it make sense to have other paths that are meant to be considered on similar time scales? It could make sense for magic and building a crime empire. One idea that comes to mind is having one called Sorcery, which is sorta in-between Discipline and Pyromancy. The Sorceries that give you more power are easy to get like Pyromancies but they are dangerous to the sorcerer, the Sorceries that give you greater control and offset the danger of other Sorceries require long periods of careful study.

    3. The thought I wanted to say was before my mind went on a tangent about Sorcery is that if there are various deltas that require large time investments, then figuring out if you can manage to achieve an ability in the couple months between adventures can be part of the game.

  2. It might be more useful for a game with very long time frames. Like, a few months between adventures. Also, I think that for some technics a touch more mechanical effect would be useful, as heartbeats are hard to judge on the fly.

  3. The way I'm reading it, if you start by meditating an hour a day, it will count towards unlocking Meditation, but it will also count towards unlocking Synchrony. Considering that almost each rank has disciplines that require only days or weeks to complete,(the exception is limber which requires a month, but there are 12 months in a year so it still works. It's conceivable that someone with iron will, and the opportunity focus entirely on the task would be able to reach Synchrony after a year of practicing discipline. Based on that, I think a dedicated student with a normal amount of mistakes and setbacks would be able achieve every discipline except for Mastery within 3-4 years. And assuming that you can work towards multiple disciplines at the same time, possibly sooner. And aside from Truth and Wisdom, you can do whatever you want with these abilities once you have them. I feel like this delta-path appeals both to characters motivated by power and by enlightenment in some interesting ways.

    1. Yeah! Exactly.

      The goal here is that disciplines take time and effort, less than moral purity or anything else. If you put in the time, you get the perk.